Archive for ‘Blogspeditions’

May 28, 2012

Getting Started Bike Commuting: A Blogspedition inside Bike Style

Barb on a bike wearing a green dress

A typical day on the bike: Dress, pumps, helmet, gloves.

The blog now stands at over 170 posts after a year of writing. Lots of advice is sprinkled throughout every post, along with my ponderings and miscellany on bike policy, infrastructure creation, and other aspects of becoming a bike-friendlier world.

This post serves as a categorized round-up of many of the posts you may find helpful if you’re thinking about bike commuting.


Riding and Mechanics


Hauling Stuff

Getting Started as a Commuter

Route Selection

Bike Parking


Rules of the Road

Paying Attention

“Roll” Models

Women featured in our “On a Roll with” series talk about how they ride and other posts about or by individual women riders. Be inspired!

Snapshots of Riding Days and Destinations

These posts are of the “where I rode my bike today” variety to give you an idea of how easy and flexible bike transportation can be, whether it’s for the round trip to and from work or a Saturday full of errands. Many of them also tell you what I was wearing, in my ongoing mission to demystify and de-Spandex everyday biking.

Your Turn

  • Some topics are missing from the list. Helmets and hair, for example–an issue for many women and one I’ll tackle in a future post. What topics would you add?
April 21, 2012

Just Capital! The Blogspedition Heads to Washington, DC

This coming week I get to appreciate our nation’s capitol yet again on an annual trip I make as part of a community delegation to meet with our federal elected officials, their staff, and various agencies on behalf of Spokane priorities.

Since these include projects of the university where I head up communications and public affairs I’m working while I’m there, but the schedule does have some gaps that may permit me to check out the Capital Bikeshare program or rent a bike from a local shop and pedal up and down the Mall a bit. I usually walk myself into the ground squeezing in museum visits between meetings–a bike would make it all so much easier and more efficient!

Meanwhile, as with my trip to New York City in February, I’m doing a blogspedition round-up in honor of the trip. I’ll also share some impressions of the biking the way I did for the Big Apple.

Washington, DC, has a number of active bloggers, and without further ado, here they are!

  • A Girl and Her Bike: Kate is keeping up with her 30 Days of Biking riding and posting here and at Tales from the Sharrows too. You can catch up with her via Twitter at @girlonabikedc. What you may not learn unless you dig a bit more is that she’s a DC police officer and once got hit on her bike by a guy who did it deliberately, then tried to get away with it. Bad idea. That particular post has great advice in case you’re involved in a hit and run, by the way. (Hint: The police arrest drivers, not cars; go ahead and memorize the license plate if you can but get a really good look at the driver and passengers first.)
  • Bicycling to Work: Char blogs about her 14-mile daily round trip into DC with stories about chains, reflective vests, and all that good commute stuff.
  • CAWES Cycling: Racers with nicknames like Princess Leah, Raspa, Grizzly, and Lemming blog here about their experiences trying to move up in category, win, or just survive, and their work to support the IM Able Foundation, which works to inspire “all individuals, disabled and able-bodied, realize the potential to go further and push harder than their preconceived limits.” (I’m heading over to post a link about this on the Veterans’ Day post I wrote about groups and efforts like this.)
  • Chasing Mailboxes: She’s @gypsybug on Twitter and she rides some seriously crazy mileage in addition to commuting!
  • Mastering the Uphill Shift: @BloomingCyclist tells it like she sees it, including stories of those times when a ride doesn’t turn out all that great. She also hangs out on Tumblr at The Uphill Shift, where you’ll find a big set of photos of male bike-racing hotties. Enjoy!
  • Pedal ‘n’ Purl: @nikki_d bikes and knits, a combination I run across frequently in these blogs (hey, that would make for a great blogspedition! Coming soon.) and writes about her canning over at Gin and Pickles (getting pickled more than one way?).
  • Sticky Femme: Her Tumblr site mostly consists of very happy photos of dates with her sweetie and mentions of fabulous restaurants. This is a key site for me since I’m going to be eating out a lot this coming week! She’s @stickyfemme on Twitter.
  • Where the Bike Takes Me: It’s defunct (last post in 2009) but I’m capturing it here for posterity. It may symbolize a stat I just got from Andrea (soon to be a guest blogger here!), that 95% of all personal blogs are abandoned. It’s just possible that the final post’s reference to an “ever-growing belly” means that motherhood took over blogging time….
  • Will Bike for Change (or Pie!): My favorite title of all of these! She offers up a great mix of ride reports and passionate advocacy, and who doesn’t love pie? I’m thinking we’re long-lost sisters. She’s @willbikeforchange on Twitter.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you have any travel plans coming up?
  • Do they involve riding a bike?
  • Have any special requests for a blogspedition? Doesn’t have to be geographical–could be thematic (like the knitting bikers/biking knitters one mentioned above) or based on anything I might be able to tease out of the list.
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March 19, 2012

Around the World in 80 Days (and then Some): A Traveling Blogspedition

World map from 1808How would you like to bike around the world, meet people, share food with them, and blog about the connections you create in the process?

Yeah, me too. Amie Thao and partner Olli Tumelius are cycling across Europe and Asia, the world’s largest land mass, to document people, stories, and cuisines at their site, International Supper Club. Amie got in touch to let me know about their Kickstarter campaign to help fund the trip and I wanted to share it with you all.

A couple of notes from their blog:

“Why cycling? Human-powered, environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and fun. On bikes we are fast enough to cross deserts without going insane and slow enough to say hello to everybody along the way.

“Why food? Besides being delicious, food serves as a catalyst for storytelling and grounds the story in a tangible way.”

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a means of crowdsourcing a creative project that lets all of us be little tiny investors (or great big investors) in cool projects that speak to our hearts, not just to our wallets.

Amie and Ollie join a great group of world-traveling people on bikes I’ve gotten to know a bit about through the process of compiling the Women’s Bike Blog list. Thus they inspire this blogspedition:

  • Family on Bikes: The Vogel family biked from Alaska to Argentina; their kids now hold the world record as the youngest ever to cycle the Pan-American Highway.
  • Travelling Two: Friedel & Andrew have cycled in 33 countries.
  • Cycling Silk: Kate and Melissa cycled the Silk Road (again) in 2011.
  • World by Cycle: Kristina and Nic are cycling around the world in 2012.
  • Cycling Gypsies: In 2008 Zoa and Fin quit their jobs and packed their ginormous dogs into bike trailers to head out around the world. They haven’t stopped.
  • Bicycling Around the World: Paul and Grace are photographing their way by bike.

Your Turn

  • Have you ever dreamed of bike travel?
  • What’s holding you back?
  • What are you going to do about that?
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January 31, 2012

New York, New York: The Blogspedition Visits The City that Never Sleeps

Thanks to the Women’s Bike Blog list I can get a taste of New York biking life before I get there. Herewith a round-up of the blogs I’ve collected from New York City. They all give me different voices and views and I love the local insights.

I get to chat with some of them occasionally on Twitter and have reached out to ask what I should check out while I’m in New York. We’re now tweeting about the possibility of a women’s bike blog tweet-up (live meeting of people who know each other via Twitter). I love the community I’ve found through the simple mechanism of starting a list!

  • Sheryl Yvette: Love her attitude! She’s a glamour girl who blogs about her Weight Watchers and fitness. She also blogs at High Heels and Two Wheels on the Weight Watchers site. Twitter: @SherylYvette and @bitchcakesny
  • Houdini and Me: This blogger named her dog Houdini and her bike Martha Stewart. In the “it’s a small world” category she’s also an actress, which I thought was cool when I spotted that originally since Second Daughter is planning to embark on musical theater studies. Twitter: @HoudiniAndMe
  • The Fun Between My Legs: Points for title creativity! And have to love the 25-year-old author’s bio: “Lewd, crude and tattooed newlywed and stepmom living on a cruiser bicycle in the nitty gritty.” Twitter: @M3s0
  • The Bike Writer: 20-something Mandi commutes daily from Queens to Union Square so she knows city riding! If I were heading to New York to participate in a specific big bike tour I would definitely read her reviews before committing. Twitter: @thebikewriter
  • The Julie Blog: Julie rides a great-looking Linus Dutchie bike she has accessorized in pink. I love it. And she’s been on the Martha Stewart show to show how to make her pretty silk bead necklace. Twitter: @juleskills
  • Velojoy: She contributes to Momentum Magazine, which I read. Reading a guest blog post on winter bike cleaning may inspire me, since as I noted in a recent winter ride report the road is making for a pretty grimy bike these days. Twitter: @velojoy
  • The Monday Biker: She has a Brompton folding bike I’d love to get a look at. I learned a new term from one of her December posts: “Panda bike photography” is a picture taken of yourself, by yourself, while on your bike. I may have to try this when the roads aren’t slippery.
  • For the Love of Bikes: I love the illustration at the top of this blog: A bike with hearts in the spokes and pedals. A recent post tells me about a Greek restaurant I may have to check out: Souvlaki GR’s on the Lower East Side. You Downton Abbey fans should catch this post on the show’s bikes. Twitter: @4theloveofbikes
  • Inspired Cyclist: She posts some great ride photos—I loved her round-up for Thanksgiving. Twitter: @inspiredcyclist
  • A Packable Feast: Mostly writes about creative lunches—well beyond the PBH and carrot sticks my mom used to pack!—but also gets in a little biking now and then.
  • Adeline Adeline: A blog from a shop I hope to visit.
  • Changing Amy: She blogs from the Bronx about the weight-loss roller coaster she’s on.
  • Brooklyn by Bike: Title pretty  much says it all! Twitter: brooklynbybike
  • Mid-Life Cycling: Blogging and biking in Queens. I appreciate her voice—you’ll get a great understanding for who she is from this post.

A few possibly defunct ones but I know blogging can lapse and start again:

  • This Side of the Blue: Last posted in 2009.
  • Thoughts from the Bubble: Last posted in July 2011.
  • Thoughts of Mint Green: Last posted in April 2011.
  • Squid Knits: Last posted in September 2011. I’ve found quite a few knitting bikers in my rounds of women’s bike blogs.
  • Dykes on BiCycles: Site says it’s under reconstruction and they haven’t said anything on Twitter since last June, so…. Twitter: @dob_c
  • FixiePostcard: Be ready for the autoplay sound on the site. Last post May 2011 and the Twitter account she used to have no longer has the @fixiepostcard name so I can’t find it.

Your Turn

  • Know of any NYC women’s bike blogs not on this list? Post links here and I’ll update the master list.
January 25, 2012

Getting Healthy: The Blogspedition Looks at Biking for Weight Loss

Weight loss may or may not be your personal inspiration for getting on the bike, but plenty of women appreciate the ease of putting a little exercise into each day with bike commuting. Others gut it out on the trainer to attain personal goals in racing. Still others approach it as a chore because they want to lose weight specifically. Any way you slice it, biking burns more calories than sitting on the sofa with a bag o’ chips.

I’m not talking about trying for an unrealistic uber-skinny body, mind you. I’ve already blogged about the notion that a healthy body image isn’t tied to fitting into a specific dress size.

I’m talking about the basic level of activity that’s recommended by the American Heart Association for good health. They specifically mention dividing your moving-around efforts into two or three chunks of 10-15 minutes each, which is almost precisely how my typical bike commuting takes place.

This blogspedition rounds up a few posts and blogs that feature this topic:

For a weight-loss bonus, give blood. Some of you may remember the saying, “A pint’s a pound the world around” as a way of remembering measurements in the kitchen. Turns out it’s true at the blood bank too! Give a pint of blood and lose a pound, then burn some more calories as your body kicks up its production of replacement blood cells–all while you help save a life. What could be healthier than that?

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Is riding a bike part of a weight-control or weight-loss effort for you?
  • How’s it going?
  • Or does a post on weight loss piss you off because it seems to buy into unrealistic body-image issues for women?
January 17, 2012

My Favorite Posts of 2011: A Blogspedition in Bike Style

I launched this blog May 1, 2011, at the beginning of Spokane Bike Month and National Bicycling Month, after nearly three years of blogging about biking and a lot of miscellany over at Bike to Work Barb.

Not knowing what kind of blogging pace I could keep up, I started out cautiously, then picked up steam. Celebrating 30 Days of Biking with my own 30 Days of Biking Blogging showed me that I could find plenty of fodder as long as I made the time to write.

I’ve slowed down the writing a bit–it’s winter and hibernation season, after all–but am happy to report that the fodder keeps coming and the blog is gaining readers and views. For that, much thanks!

As I look forward to 2012 I thought I’d look back at 2011 and pick out my favorite posts, as well as tell you which ones were tops for views.

It’s tough since they’re all my children and we don’t have any favorite children, right? Some of these are ones I think deserve more readers than they’ve had so far; others capture something near and dear to my heart.

First, my personal favorites:

Now for the ones the stats say are the winners:

Related Reading

  • All the other posts

Your Turn

  • What was your favorite post and why?
October 17, 2011

Shoulder Season: The Blogspedition Stays Toasty

We’re in what the tourism industry calls a shoulder season. I think of it as “cover your shoulders” season when I’m getting dressed for the morning departure on my bike.

Cover your legs, for that matter. Last Thursday the forecast was pretty good—lower 60s—and the sun was in the sky so I took off at 7 a.m. in a skirt with bare legs. Since the temps were around the high 30s/lower 40s at that point–not 60–those were some red and chilly limbs when I got to that first meeting! No more bare legs for me—tights all the way if I’m wearing a skirt. The next day, which was cooler, I was completely comfortable with a pair of SmartWool tights under my skirt.

As for shoulders and arms, it’s all about the base layers, baby. A microweight or midweight SmartWool base layer is your best friend under a tailored jacket, sweater vest, or cardigan. The businesslike top layer covers the flat-felled seams and other design elements of the top that say “sporty!” (Another of my asides to the clothing industry—please, please, use SmartWool but make things that look as if they came from Nordstrom.)

The wool does its magic when you ride: keeps you warm, wicks any sweat without letting you get chilled, dries quickly, and hallelujah, doesn’t stink the way synthetics can.

For many years I swore I couldn’t wear wool. The few sweaters I tried on, whether they were el cheapos from a big box chain or a lovely angora or cashmere at an expensive boutique, made me claw-at-my-neck crazy.

Then I discovered SmartWool and it was love at first touch. Merino wool is just . . . better. And SmartWool emphasizes the happy sheep in their business philosophy statement, which I like.

The trick, though, is not to be totally warm when you leave the house. If you have dressed in such a way that you’re warm and cozy when you step outside, you’ll be too warm with just a few blocks of pedaling. If you cross-country ski, hike, or engage in other outdoor activities in cool weather, it’s the same principle for bikewear. Be a little on the cool side when you start and you’ll be fine as soon as you get the blood pumping.

One factor that creates more of an issue on the bike is wind, since you can go faster than you’d move hiking or snowshoeing. Wear a wind-block layer on your front. Your back is less of a problem since the wind doesn’t hit it directly. This is why you’ll see biking/running tights with wind-blocking fabric on the front but not the back, so you can vent sweat and heat there.

This is where having a high-visibility jacket that lets you zip off the sleeves comes in handy. You can wear just the vest portion both for the added visibility (“Hi, Driver! Here I am!”) and the wind-block.

Advice from some other blogs on dressing for autumn and rain:

Where to Get Tights

  • In Spokane they sell SmartWool tights at Title Nine on South Perry
  • Mountain Gear has SmartWool leggings, but not tights, last I checked
  • Here’s my Amazon Associates store if you don’t have a local source

Your Turn

  • What are your favorite clothing tricks for dressing to ride in cooler weather?
October 7, 2011

The Blogspedition Goes Panting for Pants

To round out Pants Week after laying out design specifications for stylish biking pants, shopping, shopping some more, and dealing with the pants I already own, the blogspedition ventured forth to see what other women bike bloggers (and a few other writers) have to say about pants—like bicycles, a symbol of women’s liberation from the fetters.

First, a homemade video I found on YouTube that shows why you’d care about pants design if you ride a bike. (Can’t embed it.)

And now, for the links.

Deep Thought Category

Practical Considerations

Fashion Industry Talk

Not pants but I just had to show you these–they’d be awesome under a skirt, wouldn’t they? Available from a company with the most amazing line-up of leggings I’ve ever seen (but then, I don’t get out much), Black Milk Clothing.

Your Turn

  • What article of clothing makes you a trifle obsessive because you can’t find just what you want for biking?
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October 2, 2011

Getting Married in Bike Style (A Blogspedition)

Today’s post is in honor of Eldest Daughter (my baby!), who at the tender age of 20 years old gets married today to her “Love Bear.”

In advance of dissolving in tears in my mother-of-the-bride dress (which I shopped for during 30 Days of Biking), I did a few searches for bicycle wedding images and ideas.

First, some wedding arrivals:

Descriptions of some bicycle weddings (no one I know–just cute stories and photos that might give you some ideas if you’re planning a bike wedding of your own):

Now for some bike-themed wedding decorations and ideas:

Custom print by Sofia Invitations and Prints, available on etsy

Good bike wedding gift: Print with tandem

Found on Flickr: This tandem-themed print that would make a nice wedding gift. Available on Etsy.

Custom cake topper with a bike theme for those of you on the “Tour d’Amour” by–

Custom bicycle wedding cake topper by makes custom bicycle wedding cake toppers.

A bike-themed wedding cake and a cute bicycle photo display idea:

bicycle-themed wedding cake and bike-shaped photo holder

And finally, a link to the Bicycle Weddings Pinterest board I started and will keep adding to as I see images.

Even though Kate and Tim don’t ride bikes together (yet) I know they’ll roll happily together up and down the hills and valleys of the lifelong road ahead. When one needs a rest, the other will pedal harder for a while. May the wind be at their backs and the grade never more than they can handle.

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September 19, 2011

Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.

My favorite thing about these Ana Nichoola gloves designed by a woman who races bikes--besides how pretty they are--is the loops between the fingers that make them so easy to pull off, instead of peeling off the way I do my other gloves. I'll look for this feature on every pair of gloves I get in the future.

Speaking of bike gloves (which you’ll want if you happen to fall down or if your nose runs), get a pair. Fingerless (half-finger, really) work well for summer.

If you’re riding into the fall you’ll want ones with full fingers. Once you realize how fun this is and keep riding well into the frosty days you may want some lobster claw (Vulcan hand sign) gloves too, or perhaps a pair of liners to wear under your full-fingered ones.

Reasons you want gloves:

  • People fall down sometimes. Even grown-ups. If you fall and manage to get a hand out to break the impact a bit, you’re going to scrape your palms.
  • Your nose runs when you bike. Heck, mine runs even on a hot summer day–something about the nice breeze I make for myself. Good bike gloves come with a little soft patch for nose wiping. If this sounds gross, contemplate the alternative.
  • The padding on the palms helps cushion road buzz and the jouncing when you hit a pothole or crack in the pavement.
  • Most bike gloves have a reflective logo and/or piping that adds an extra bit of visibility. I’m all about the bling: The more my bike, my clothing, and my accessories reflect when the headlights hit, the more visible I am to the driver.
  • Duh–your hands get cold. As you know if you ski or engage in other outdoor winter pursuits, frozen fingers really hurt. This is one place where you don’t want to skimp or skip. You need to be able to shift and brake so those hands have to work.
  • They can provide a touch of color for accessorizing, if you’re into that. I just got the beautiful white crocheted Ana Nichoola gloves in time for the last of the autumn warmth and I love their classy look!*

I was going to make this a blogspedition to see what others have to say about gloves, but the reality is that they just take them for granted as part of your standard gear. They don’t actually blog much about gloves themselves unless it’s a review of one particular brand and I was looking for more general information.

When I search the Big List of Women’s Bike Blogs for “gloves” I find dozens of posts that make passing references to warm gloves, gloves that weren’t heavy enough for the weather conditions on a nippy day, pretty gloves (which are really hard to find), and the seasonal change from half-finger to full-finger or from full-finger to lobster claw.

Hence this round-up of posts that show fun photos that show gloves along with a review comparing some for winter. Not so coincidentally, the fashion blogs also show you women riding in all kinds of clothing and weather conditions.

*I managed to score the last of this season’s Ana Nichoola gloves (shown above) to sell through Bike Style. I have a few pair each in S/M/L for $45 +tax/shipping. They run small, so the small is genuinely for petite hands. Email info AT ASAP if you want a pair.


Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking

  1. 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
  2. Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
  3. Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
  4. Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
  5. How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
  6. Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
  7. On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
  8. 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
  9. Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
  10. There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
  11. Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
  12. More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
  13. Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
  14. Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
  15. 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
  16. On a Roll with Katherine Widing
  17. I Shouldn’t Assume
  18. Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
  19. Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
  20. What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
  21. How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
  22. 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
  23. It’s All in the Attitude
  24. Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
  25. Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
  26. More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
  27. Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
  28. Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
  29. Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
  30. 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!

Your Turn

  • What features do you like about your current gloves?
  • Any tips on what to look for or avoid in choosing gloves?
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